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The following is the most recent column I wrote for Gambling Intelligence magazine.


I found myself in conversation recently with someone who wondered out loud whether the sparkle had gone out of the gaming industry of late.

It was, he told me, all a bit of a drudge these days: the poker bubble had well and truly burst; there was nothing excitingly new in online betting since the arrival of in-play; the consolidation story so long talked-about had hit a brick wall with the merger (which has seen a whole company’s value disappear too) scaring everyone off; and really, the industry looked stuck in a rut. From here to eternity, in his view, it was all about fighting regulators for licences, and fighting each other for market share. Or, to put it another way, get into the race, and then beat everyone else to the bottom.

What a gloomy old view, I thought – and thankfully not one that is supported by the level (and breadth) of innovation that I have seen coming out of the industry over the course of the last twelve months.  Perhaps it’s because I’m no longer part of one of the more established companies that I have recently been shown more good ideas in start-up form than at any stage in the last few years. For a long time we seemed to be the drivers of everything that was new; but now the established industry is, well, so established, that the road seems to have been re-opened to a million new little ideas from start-up companies.

I’m not talking about the plethora of well-funded firms which populated this year’s impressive ICE: they certainly demonstrated the industry’s overall growth, but on the whole they seemed to be payment solutions and software developments around existing product. I’m talking about the number of smaller outfits which are looking to bring to market really game-changing innovation: the sort of change which Betfair brought ten years ago, with the potential to make the industry sit up and look at itself in a totally different light.

One such is scheduled to launch in October: a fixed-odds sports product which will be the first in years, to my knowledge, which doesn’t have the same basic look and feel as all the others. Based around technology currently being employed by its parent company, Betbutler (which launched in August), BetClearer promises to bring intelligent search, one-stop access to all the global brands, and – for me most interestingly – a totally new design to a market which has over the years developed a relatively standard left-hand menu of the sporting options available.  If it does what it says on the tin, it’s going to make people sit up and look.

In a similar vein, Bodugi, which launched in March, could attract a whole new audience. – even if the structure of the site is not so obviously ground-breaking on first visit.  There’s no space here to go into the details of what it does, but suffice it to say it’s different, it’s innovative, and it’s appealing.

Like BetClearer, Bodugi is just one of a host of ideas that are out there. Many will fail, obviously; the number of success stories may even be few in the end. But the view that there are no new ideas coming through is nonsense – such a nonsense, in fact, that a new fund has recently been set up to invest in some of the many coming through.  Backed by, the concept of New Game Capital alone suggests something that the impressive pipeline of products that have come my way had already persuaded me of: there’s as much innovation now as there ever was.



By the by, the latest edition of GI appeared on my desk recently when I returned from a week in Florida with the family, and included an article which quoted me as being “disillusioned” with Betfair by the time they asked me to leave.

For what little it is worth, I’m not sure I would have used that word myself. I don’t think I was ever “disillusioned”.

There are plenty of things I would have done differently had it been my shout.  I am not sure that that is the same as saying I was ‘disillusioned’: I always had great confidence in my colleagues at Betfair, and in the product.

The phrase is, I think, an interpretation of my expressing the view that I didn’t believe we were maximising the mix between personnel and product to ensure that the whole was greater than the sum of the parts. I would sooner have described it as frustration than disillusionment, and I retain the former rather than the latter to this day.


Posted in Betting industry.

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